As of December 1, 2014, the General Assembly of North Carolina has enacted legislation that will now distinguish between marijuana paraphernalia and paraphernalia for all other drugs. The change to the statute is the exclusion of marijuana paraphernalia’s applicability to subsection (a) of N.C.G.S. §90-113.22(a)– Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and the addition of an entirely new section §90-113.22A– Possession of Marijuana Drug Paraphernalia.
N.C.G.S. §90-113.22(a) as rewritten it is a Class 1 Misdemeanor offense for a person to knowingly use, or to possess with intent to use drug paraphernalia to introduce any controlled substance into the body other than marijuana. The new statute in §90-113.22A now makes it a Class 3 Misdemeanor if any person knowingly uses, or possesses with intent to use drug paraphernalia to introduce marijuana into the body. Marijuana paraphernalia will be treated the same as simple possession of marijuana.
This is a significant change as it lowers the misdemeanor class for marijuana paraphernalia two classes. With the change of marijuana paraphernalia to a Class 3 Misdemeanor, a conviction of this offense will carry a much lighter punishment and fine. If convicted of a first offense of a Class 3 Misdemeanor, the court can only impose a fine, as opposed to the Class 1 Misdemeanor offense which the court could impose a Community Level punishment of 1 – 45 days which could include community service and/or drug classes. More importantly, if you are a repeat offender and have been classified with a prior record level II or III with a Class 1 Misdemeanor conviction you could face 45 to 120 days in jail. In contract, a Class 3 Misdemeanor conviction for a repeat offender could face up to 20 days in jail.
In addition, a person convicted of a Class 1 Misdemeanor can have that conviction count towards felony sentencing and a conviction of a Class 3 Misdemeanor does not carry any felony sentencing points. While this may not be as important to a misdemeanant offender, for someone who is being accused and charged with a felony offense the difference in a few record level points may mean the difference of several months in prison. Also, under 8 U.S.C. 1227(A)(2)(B)(i), a Class 3 Misdemeanor may have significantly less severe immigration consequences as opposed to an offender being found guilty of the Class 1 offense.
These changes to the North Carolina drug paraphernalia statute can be very important to your criminal case. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor drug offense or felony drug offense, Raleigh criminal defense attorney Chris Dozier will work hard as your criminal defense lawyer to get these drug charges suppressed or dismissed. It is important to understand how these seemingly minor drug offenses can generate major problems for your future. Chris Dozier will put his years of courtroom trial experience to work for you and your case and will provide you with aggressive and affordable criminal defense representation in Raleigh for both drug possession or drug paraphernalia offenses. Contact Dozier Law Firm today for a free consultation on how to protect your rights against unlawful drug charges and find out how hiring a Raleigh Drug Crimes Attorney can help your case.